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Managing Emotions to Improve your Mental Health

Managing Emotions to Improve Your Mental Health

Managing Emotions to Improve Your Mental Health

We are all affected by our feelings. If we feel doubtful, pessimistic and fearful, then we are unhappy and are said to have poor mental health. If we feel confident, optimistic and enthusiastic, then we are happy and are said to have good mental health.

How can we manage emotions, so that we consistently live with a positive state of mind?

The first step to achieving this goal is to gain a better understanding of emotions.

Emotions are not caused by external events.

The facts are neutral. They have no intrinsic emotional content. For example, a spider is not intrinsically frightening. Emotions of fear are not caused by spiders. Emotions are caused by the meaning that is associated with spiders by the observer.

Emotions are reactions to the meanings associated with an event.

Whenever negative meanings are associated to an event, then negative emotions are triggered.

Conversely, whenever positive meanings are associated to an event, then positive emotions are triggered.

Therefore, if we want to change the way we feel about any immutable event, fact or set of circumstances, then we must learn how to change the evaluative meaning we ascribe to that event. If we change the evaluative meaning, then we change emotional response.

Emotions are reactions to the evaluative meanings associated to an event.

Mental Health : Managing Emotions to Improve Your Mental Health

How can we change the evaluative meaning of an event?

To change the meaning of an event, we must know that, whenever we make an evaluation, we are asking and answering questions.

To evaluate something, you need to ask and answer questions about it. Questions such as: is this thing good or bad for me? Painful or pleasurable? Hard or easy? Safe or dangerous? Possible or impossible?

The questions that we ask and the quality of the answers they provide, form the basis of our evaluation and therefore determine the nature of the emotional response.

If a person's evaluation is that spiders are "dangerous and nasty", then their emotional response will be negative.

But if a person decides that spiders are "fascinating", then their emotional response is positive.

The next thing to understand is that we can change the nature of the evaluative questions we ask.

  • Some questions are, by nature, negative: They almost presuppose a negative response.
  • Other questions are, by nature, positive: They presuppose a positive response.

Examples of Negative Questions.

These are what I like to call killer questions:

  1. How could you/I be so stupid (thoughtless, careless, unprofessional, heartless, etc)?
  2. Do you know how angry this makes me feel?
  3. Why do bad things always happen to me?
  4. Who should we blame?
  5. How much will this cost us?
  6. Why is life so unfair?
  7. How come you/I did not see this coming and prevent it?
  8. What is the government going to do about it?
  9. What is the point of carrying on?
  10. So, I hear your cat has died, how does that make you feel?

Can you see how dreadful these questions are? They almost demand a negative response. Please notice how common some of these questions are, and how damaging they would be if used frequently.

These questions become even more damaging when they are the subconscious, automatic evaluative method that a person uses to evaluate every event. Every time a person makes an error or omission, they say to themselves, "How could I have been so stupid?" If their train is cancelled, they ask themselves, "How come bad things always happen to me?"

This continual habit is emotional suicide and leads to a chronic pain in the brain.

Problem-solving Evaluative Questions.

We need to change the killer questions, to problem-solving evaluative questions, such as these:

  1. What are the facts of the situation?
  2. What do we need to know, that we do not already know?
  3. Now we have the full picture, what is our best possible outcome or goal to aim at?
  4. If we were to achieve our goal, how would we feel?
  5. What technology or information will we need to achieve our goal?
  6. What money will we need, and from where will we get it?
  7. In order to achieve the goal, who could we call upon to help?
  8. How much time do we have?
  9. What are the first three things to do?
  10. What are we waiting for? Let's get started!

Can you see that the emotional tone of these questions almost demands a more positive response?

If people were to use these questions as a habitual way of assessing any situation, can you see how much more positive they would feel and more successful they would likely become?

Thinking determines action and therefore results.

Everything in the human world is a product of an earlier thought process. Every emotion is the product of an earlier thought process. If we want to feel better and live in a better world, we must improve our thinking methods. Thinking is so fast and ingrained, that we rarely examine its nature. We take our thinking style for granted and we do not think about our thinking.

Think about thinking.

Here the points to ponder:

  1. Take control of the habitual evaluative questions you use, to associate meaning to any event.
  2. Avoid the use of killer questions.
  3. Make conscious use of problem-solving questions.
  4. Perfect the art and teach it to others.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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